Travelling with a smartphone is either expensive, or inconvenient, or both. Whether you use your plan from home, or spend a precious day of your trip setting up a local account, there's a good chance you'll be asking yourself whether it's worth the hassle. That is, unless you're a Vodafone customer on a Red plan.
If you’re travelling to one of the countries included in Vodafone's Red Roaming scheme, you won’t be charged a hefty fee per-minute, per-SMS or per-MB of data that you use during your trip. Instead, you pay just $5 per day to get full access to your regular plan’s minutes, texts and data.
Better still, the fee is only charged if you actually use your phone. If you leave your phone turned off in the hotel safe, then you won't pay a thing. However, you should be aware that any network use (calls, texts or data) will trigger the $5 cost, so if you've set your phone to automatically check for new emails or updates on Facebook, this will be enough to trigger the fee. Receiving a text message will not, but receiving a call will.
What you can use
- Standard calls and SMS to numbers in the country you are visiting.
- Standard calls and SMS to numbers back in Australia.
- The same data allowance you have in your plan in Australia. If you're on a plan with 5GB of data, you can use 5GB of data while you're overseas.
- Access to 4G data networks where available.
How do I activate $5 roaming?
You don't have to do a thing. All customers on Vodafone Red plans (either on contract or month-to-month) get access to Red Roaming.
Folks with a non-eligible plan aren’t totally left by themselves. You can contact Vodafone to talk about upgrading you to a more modern plan for no charge, providing it’s not cheaper than your current one.
There are a two plan inclusions that won’t work with $5 roaming.
- Vodafone to Vodafone – if your plan includes free Voda to Voda calls then this will not work while roaming
- Data Workout – some Vodafone plans give you unlimited data in your first two months. This is called Data Workout and it does not apply while roaming. You get access to the data in your standard plan inclusions.
Where does it work?
Vodafone is constantly adding new countries to its $5 roaming list. At the time this article was written there are over 50. Currently, the included countries are:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Wales.
Outside of these countries Vodafone has a more-traditional roaming scheme called Pay-As-You-Go. This will cost you:
- $1 per minute to make or receive calls
- $1 per MB of data used
- 75c per TXT and MMS.
We recommend you use no data on Pay-As-You-Go. You could end up paying $40 or more for viewing a single YouTube video.
Going over your data
If you need a bit more data you have two options:
- Red Plans automatically top-up as you go over your data limit. As soon as you pass your allotment, you are charged $10 and given an extra 1GB until the end of the month. This feature still applies while roaming.
- Data packs are a great way to temporarily boost your internet allowance. Even if you’re on a Red Plan, you can still apply a data pack. It’s the same $10 for 1GB, but if you think you’ll need more it gets cheaper as the packs increase. $20 for 3GB, $45 for 8GB and so-on. There's no lock-in contract so you can cancel whenever you want.